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How did World War I and its aftermath lead to the rise of fascism in 1920s Europe?

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World War I and its aftermath led to the rise of fascism in 1920s Europe by causing economic and social turmoil, which fascists promised to resolve. In Italy, fascism appealed due to desires for national restoration and order after wartime devastation. In Germany, the Treaty of Versailles and economic collapse fueled support for the Nazis, who promised prosperity and national pride. Fascism also emerged as a reaction against communism in destabilized postwar Europe.

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The aftermath of World War I caused a plethora of economic and social problems for the defeated countries. The fascists were able to seize power because they claimed they could fix these issues.

Italian fascist movements were already forming during WWI (Mussolini held his first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action in 1915), but it really took root after the war devastated Europe. The desire to expand Italian territories and return to its illustrious imperial past were reasons why fascism appeared appealing to so many. It promised to return order to a chaotic nation still reeling from war.

In Germany, fascism appealed to the same nationalistic values and desire for security that spurred Italy to take to it. After WWI, the value of German money fell significantly, to the point where paper money was of more use as kindling for fire than as a legitimate currency. The Treaty of Versailles placed much of the blame of the war on Germany's shoulders, stripping the country of its right to have a real military and saddling it with the war debt. The common citizens became bitter and angry about this state of affairs, hence their attraction to the Nazi promises of order, prosperity, and national pride.

So essentially, feelings of national humiliation and economic troubles helped put the fascists into power in both Italy and Germany.

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World War I (1914–1918) was extremely destructive and led to the demise of the Austrian, German, Russian, and Turkish states. Most of these states had had monarchical systems of government, but there was a political vacuum in the postwar era. Those countries had lost the war, but even countries on the winning side of WWI were destabilized by the conflict.

Communists seized power in Russia in 1917. Fascism was, in part, a violent reaction against communism. Indeed, the communists who seized power in Russia promised to spread their system to every nation in the world.

Fascism appealed to many Italians after WWI. The country had gained very little from its sacrifices during the war, and social unrest was widespread. Italy's government was weak, and Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist party, promised to save the country from both communism and anarchy.

In Germany, a fascist movement led by Adolph Hitler emerged after 1920. Germany lost the war, and its people were vengeful and dissatisfied with the country's postwar governments. In addition, the economy collapsed with the rise of high inflation and mass unemployment. Hitler became the leader of Germany in 1933.

Germany and Italy helped to create another fascist state in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Fascist Francisco Franco won the war and became Spain's dictator.

Fascism was defeated in World War II, and both Mussolini and Hitler died in the last year of that war.

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World War I and its aftermath helped to lead to the rise of fascism in Europe because it led to economic problems, political instability, and unhappiness among people of some of the countries of Europe. This led people to want some sort of government that would keep order and restore stability, which they thought fascism could do.  Let us look at the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany to see how this is true.

Italy was on the winning side of WWI, but Italians were still unhappy with the result of the war.  They wanted to get more territory as a reward for their participation in the war.  In addition, the end of the war brought economic problems.  Because of these factors, many people were unhappy with the government which led to a great deal of political upheaval.  When fascists promised to restore stability, prosperity, and Italian power, people were happy to support them. 

In Germany, people were even less happy after the war. Germany had lost the war and the Treaty of Versailles had treated them very harshly.  It had forced them to give up much of their territory, to forego the right to have a real military, and required them to admit the war was their fault and to pay reparations for it.  This humiliation, along with the economic problems caused by the onset of the Great Depression, made it so that many Germans wanted a strong government that would fix all of their problems.  The Nazis (who were fascists) claimed that they could do this and that led many people to support them.

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